Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
BBC reports that Haidar was taken to the hospital today in the Canary Islands, because she was suffering of "severe stomach and abdominal pain." This happens amidst reports that the whole stalemate is coming to a resolution as the Sahrwai activist may finally be on her way back to La'ayoune. According to POLISARIO Ambassador to Algeria, Ibrahim Ghali: “Effectively everything has been resolved, according to our information…a plane is at Lanzarote airport awaiting instructions.”
Haidar has been on a hunger strike for the last month at Lazarote Airport in the Canary Islands, after she was refused entry to Morocco through La'ayoune. Moroccan authorities maintain that Haidar refused to acknowledge her Moroccan citizenship on the airport entry documents, thus renouncing her citizenship. Haidar's case has sparked intense media and international attention. European countries have continued their efforts to pressure Morocco into re-issuing Aminatou Haidar's passport. The Haidar quagmire in the Canary Islands also travelled across the pond, where in the US, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma recently issued a statement calling for a swift resolution to Haidar's hunger strike.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
It is clear that Morocco will continue to press its position amidst sheepish support from some in the EU and an overwhelming political and popular support, judging from comments on Moroccan press sites and blogs. However, if Haidar's health continues to worsen leading to her death, Morocco would find itself in a tight spot with Spain and the international community.
Haidar’s sit-in and hunger strike have already generated intense press coverage in Europe and the Maghreb. The Spanish Press has claimed that Morocco planned for the expulsion of Haidar even before she arrived in La'ayoune on November 13th. Thus, Haidar's alleged renunciation of her citizenship was just a pretext to get her expelled from Morocco.
The stalemate is embarrassing to Spain as well, since the events are unfolding within its territory sparking a fervent debate among the political elite in the kingdom. The socialist-led government of PM Zapatero is ardently looking for a swift resolution of the problem. Some in Spain have even called for tough diplomatic measures against Morocco, which at this point, is holding true to Mohammed VI's new tough dichotomous line of either you are "a patriot or a traitor" on the issue of the Western Sahara. Unfortunately for Aminatou Haidar, she is considered to be in the latter category as she has been labeled by Moroccan press, state and political elite as a conspirator against Morocco's territorial integrity.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Let me clearly say there is no more room for ambiguity or deceit: either a person is Moroccan, or is not. There can be no more duplicity or evading of duties. Now is the time for clear, unambiguous stances, and for responsible conduct. One is either a patriot, or a traitor. There is no halfway house. One cannot enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship, only to abuse them and conspire with the enemies of the homeland.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The author reviews two books, one of which is Tariq Ramadan's latest What I Believe. Ramadan felt compelled to write such a short book in order to explain his views on Islam, which he has articulated over the past 25 years. The reviewer advances Caroline Fourest's book Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan as a reference for criticizing Ramadan. However, that book should hardly serve as a reference. In a recent show on French TV France 3, Ramadan debated Fourest on her charges in the book, in which he found more than 200 citation errors and misquotes. It is also odd that the fervor against Ramadan and the charges of "doublespeak" seem to center around his lineage to maternal grandfather Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist father Said Ramadan. Do we need him to abjure his family ties to remove that specter of fundamentalism?
Ramadan has always been clear in his argument for promoting Ijtihad (interpretive reasoning), and for a new reading of Quranic and Hadithic texts in areas of social and interpersonal affairs. His much publicized call for a moratorium, during a debate with Nicholas Sarkozy in 2003, on corporal punishment, stoning and death penalty was an indication of an Islamologist's serious attempt to force Muslims to adopt a pedagogical stance towards their scripture when it does not pertain to creed or the fundamental beliefs of the religion.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
It has become customary to report state attacks on freedom of expression in Morocco. The latest episode in this unfortunate trend took place Tuesday. A court in Casablanca upheld an earlier court's three-year jail sentence against human rights activist Chakib Khayari, who previously accused some high-level civil servants of aiding in the cannabis trafficking. Khayari is the head of the Human Rights Association of the Rif region in the north of Morocco.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
The use of dahir in Morocco is different than the discretionary powers that extra-presidential systems possess in Latin America. The dahir emanates from the monarch’s religious authority and is treated by the legislature and the cabinet as a sacred text. In keeping with Islamic traditions, the parliament and the local assemblies are consultative branches of the royal power.
This was made apparent after Hassan II’s accession to power, when he addressed the parliament in 1963: “I shall bestow upon you part of the powers that have been with the ruling family for twelve centuries…I have made the Constitution by my very hands, and it has not given the deputies any powers, only obligations.” This authoritarian feature is characterized by the absolute power of the monarch, who can at his will, dissolve the parliament. It is noteworthy here that the monarchy has never considered its perennial status as authoritarian. On the contrary, it has maintained its Islamic-democratic nature, since any constitutional pronouncements are subject to plebiscitary powers of the jam’a (community). However, in the absence of free competitive elections, strong legislature and political participation, the consultative process is far from its Islamic ideal and has since the independence been used to legitimize royal absolutism.
Consultation is also buttressed through royal discretionary power of dahir, which constitutes the single most important source of legislation in Morocco. All royal decisions are taken under the guise of dahir. These are above the political system and all constitutional texts. In fact, the constitution itself was promulgated according to the 1963 dahir, which effectively enabled the king to exercise his dominance over all political aspects of the Moroccan system.
Dahirs have the force and appearance of laws, always begin with a religious greeting and are signed under the title of commander of the faithful. This is done to invoke the religious stature of royal decrees, which are not subject to annulment or appeal. Dahirs were codified into an “official bulletin” in the years after 1969 with the publication of the finance law. The continuity of this institutional decision-making practice is invoked in all royal appointments and is given the formal status similar to that of ancient sharifian letters and correspondence. The dahir is a sacred act of sovereignty, immune to all judicial processes and inviolable.
Monday, November 9, 2009
In support of a fellow blogger, I post this for Fatma Riahi, Tunisian dissident, whose weblog, Fatma Arabicca blog, was shut down by the Tunisian authorities. Fatma Riahi was also arrested for running the Debat Tunisie weblog and its parody of Ben Ali's landslide election of October 25th. There is a facebook page dedicated to Fatma calling on Tunisian authorities to free the blogger. As Michael Dunn opines Arab regimes have to realize that shutting down blogs and restricting freedom of expression on the Internet, brings more attention to the set of issues, cartoons and parodies they seek to censure.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
As it was expected, the Prosecutor's office in Paris has decided to suspend the arrest warrants against the four Moroccans sought in the disappearance of Mehdi Ben Barka citing more information was requested from Interpol. The warrants were issued for the arrest of, among others, General Hosni Benslimane, head of the Royal Gendarmerie (pictured above). Some Moroccan pundits argue that France's push behind the issuance of the warrants and their swift suspension is an attempt to flex French political muscles over its sphere of influence, that for France, also comprises the francophone and former protectorate Morocco. Moroccan Arabic Daily al-Massae reports that according to a high level anonymous French source, the whole episode sought to "shake" Moroccans and Morocco's political system by opening up old wounds as a punishment for the recent Moroccan decision to purchase U.S. F16 fighter jets over French "Rafale."
Monday, October 5, 2009
Interpol has issued international arrest warrants in the case of the 1965 disappearance of Moroccan leftist activist and opposition leader Mehdi ben Barka. The warrants are for four Moroccans allegedly involved in the kidnapping and disappearance of Ben Barka in Paris. Among the four wanted are General Hosni Benslimane, head of the Royal Gendarmerie and powerful military man in the kingdom; General Abdelhaq al-Qadiri, former head of Morocco's internal intelligence services, and former intelligence officers Miloud Tounzi, aka Larbi Chtouki, and Abdelhaq 'Ash'ashi. The case of Ben Barka has captivated the Moroccan political psyche for the past forty years, and it is highly unlikely that the warrants will be served at all. However, these warrants are seen as an indictment of the former regime of Hassan II and its possible involvement in the disappearance of the opposition and non-aligned movement leader. Mehdi ben Barka was a leading figure behind the emergence of the Union National des Forces Populaires (UNFP), which broke away from the Istiqlal party in 1959. Ben Barka, along with Fquih Basri, establsihed the New Left movement, which among other things, sought to overthrow the monarchical regime and to establish a socialist-leaning republic.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Over the last couple of days, Morocco has been the scene of yet another state investigation into the press. This time, Akhbar al-Yawm has been closed until further notice and is target to prosecution after it published a caricature depicting the newly married Prince Moulay Ismael on a wedding platform ('amariya), and a partially complete Star of David on the Moroccan flag in the background. The palace has already denounced the cartoon and its attempt to "politicize a family ceremony." The editor of the daily Akhbar al-Yawm Taoufiq Boua'chrine and caricaturist Khaled Kedar are under investigation for "insulting the national flag."
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Qaddafi’s speech emanates from 60 years worth of the developing world’s frustrations with the world body. The Colonel unleashed on the world community demands to investigate everything from the death of Patrice Lumumba to the execution of Saddam Hussein. While such claims are outlandish, they highlight the ever-increasing rift between the developed world powers and the majority-developing world that has been disempowered and disenfranchised from any meaningful decisions at the world stage. Those that claim the United Nations’ General Assembly has lost moral legitimacy for allowing Qaddafi and Ahmadinejad a platform to spew their objectionable rhetoric seem to forget that the Assembly is exactly the forum for all forms of discourse.
Qaddafi’s unorthodox 90-minute diatribe, while lacking all forms of decorum, is his right as the leader of a sovereign state, member of the United Nations and president of the current session of the General Assembly. Internally, his regime has been a reprehensible panacea of political repression for the last 40 years. That, however, does not exclude him from the company of other equally rogue world leaders represented or present at the United Nations. His speech has only reminded the world of Qaddafi’s theatrics, and it is a missed opportunity for the Colonel (“King of Kings of Africa, as he was introduced yesterday) to persuade the world that he has somehow corrected his erratic behavior and is ready to join the circle of respectable world leaders.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
A Moment of Contentment: The 40th Anniversary of the Qadhafi Regime
September 1, 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of Muammar al-Qadhafi's overthrow of the Libyan monarchy and establishment of the Great Socialist Peoples Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya. Four days of lavish commemoration, complete with a military parade, marked the event. For Qadhafi, the achievement has been singular. No head of state in the world today (apart from the Sultan of Brunei) matches his longevity in power.
Looking back on Qadhafi's military coup detat in 1969, almost nobody in Libya, let alone outside of the country, had heard of the young army officer, who had burst forth - literally and metaphorically - from the depths of the Libyan desert. With unprecedented nationalist, Arab and Islamic zeal, he seized the reins of power from King Idris al-Sanusi, who had led the country since independence in 1951. At that moment, the Libyan state and society embarked on an entirely new journey in all facets of life, which would be marked by wide vicissitudes encompassing both significant successes and profound, even catastrophic failures.
In contrast to 1969, Qadhafi's Libya is today most definitely on the map. Neither Africa, nor the Arab world, nor major international powers have been untouched by Qadhafi and his policies.
Qadhafi's successful accumulation of power over his countrys domestic and foreign policies, and his resulting impact internationally, stemmed from a variety of factors, including: his nationalization, early on, of Libya's immense oil resources, which enabled him to accumulate unprecedented power (for Libya) in the military-security realm; his charismatic and unconventional personality, along with a militantly revolutionary and anti-imperialist agenda; and the important backing provided by the Soviet Union in its global competition with the United States during Qadhafi's first twenty years in power.
Libyan political life during the 1970s and 1980s was highlighted by a number of developments: the implementation of Qadhafi's Peoples Power political system, in line with his self-styled revolutionary ideology, which included the propagation of the Third Universal Theory as formulated in Qadhafi's three-part Green Book, which he touted as the only genuine democratic rule in modern times; the substantial upgrading of the socio-economic fabric of life and overall welfare of the Libyan population; the construction of the Great Man-Made River to transfer water from aquifers under the Sahara in southern Libya to its populated coastal areas in the north; an iron-fisted crackdown against Libyan opposition figures and groups, whether at home or abroad; and initial steps to suppress the first manifestations of a radical Islamic insurgency, which would seek to eradicate Qadhafi's infidel regime, notwithstanding its sworn Islamic character.
One of the most prominent features of Libyan foreign policy during these initial decades was Qadhafi's continuous efforts to shape the Arab world and African politics according to his own pan-Arab, anti-Western and anti-Israeli predilections. These included military interventions in Africa (highlighted by disastrous wars in Chad and Uganda ); chronic hostility with Egypt, which even escalated into a brief military confrontation in 1977; active subversion of pro-Western regimes in Africa and actions to undermine Israel's interests on the continent; strategic and political collaboration with the Soviets; and involvement in international terrorism, particularly directed against the US, with whom relations had run a troubled course from the very moment of Qadhafi's ascent to power.
Indeed, the Libyan-American conflict reached two peaks during this period, challenging Qadhafi's hold on power in an unprecedented fashion. The first was the American air raid on Tripoli and Benghazi on 15 April 1986. The second was the Lockerbie dispute, which came to the fore in the wake of American and British accusations of Libyan responsibility for the explosion of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland while on route from London to the US in December 1988.
The last twenty years has witnessed a dramatic alteration of Libyas domestic and foreign affairs. In the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, Libya was left alone and defenseless in international politics. In view of the Lockerbie-induced UN sanctions against Libya, imposed in 1992, and America's two military campaigns (1991, 2003) against Iraqs Saddam Hussein, Qadhafi internalized the fact that the US was capable and willing to flex its muscles in the Middle East against states deemed hostile to its interests. The tangible political inputs of his son and possible heir, Saif al-Islam, were also influential in the evolution of Libyan policies.
It took seven years of UN sanctions to compel Qadhafi to extradite to Scotland two of Libyas citizens suspected of responsibility for the Lockerbie explosion, in return for the sanctions suspension. Even so, the Lockerbie dispute would remain a central issue on Libyas foreign affairs agenda, as well as have an enormous impact on the countrys domestic affairs, including Qadhafi's continued political survival.
In early 2001, the Lockerbie trial concluded with a guilty verdict and lengthy prison sentence for Abd al-Basit al-Maqrahi. (He has just been released from prison in Scotland on the grounds that he suffers from terminal prostate cancer, and was greeted with open arms upon his return to Libya.) The verdict, accompanied by mounting threats and pressures, compelled Qadhafi to alter his conduct in favor of diplomatic engagement with the West. These pressures included the growing menace posed by Libyas violent Islamist opposition, the fears of becoming the next Iraq, i.e. being militarily invaded by the US, and economic difficulties stemming from the devastating combination of UN sanctions and the cumulative decline of the countrys oil revenue as a result of chronically sluggish global oil prices.
Dramatic results were not long in coming. In late 2003, Libya announced its decision to dismantle its clandestine nuclear and other WMDs program, halt its drive to develop long-range missiles and open all weapons stockpiles to international inspection. As a quid pro quo, Libya was removed from the US State Departments list of state sponsors of terrorism. This, in turn, enabled Qadhafi to proceed apace towards his economic goals and attain greater political stability at home, while reaping a series of diplomatic gains in foreign affairs.
Hence, Libya can no longer be considered a pariah state. After 40 years of tumultuous times, Qadhafi is the Great Survivor of contemporary international politics, and is now contentedly celebrating his ascent to power.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Mr. Obama's speech to the Muslim world hit most of the major notes he was supposed to address. His eloquent speech is not a general policy formulation towards the Muslim world, but extended a much needed olive branch to the Muslim world after eight years of marginalization and short-term political goals. Having said that, Mr. Obama's has to show us his concrete plans for revamping the Arab-Israeli peace process and more importantly to demonstrate a true commitment to political reforms.
A change in tone is not sufficient to reverse years of irresponsible US foreign policy in the Middle East and towards the Muslim world. No longer can the US turn a blind eye as the Muslim world sinks deeper and deeper into political and economic decay. In his speech, Mr. Obama never promoted the building of democratic institutions and devoted little space for democracy promotion. He generally noted that the governments “should reflect the will of the people” and that citizens should “have a say” in how they are governed. His administration has shown an awkward pragmatism in its foreign policy by sacrificing human rights and political reforms for the sake of regional and global stability. This was particularly clear in Mr. Obama's grand gesture towards Iran during the celebration of Nayrouz. A gesture that Iran has largely shunned amidst continuing abuses of human rights. The choice of Egypt itself, ruled since 1981 by an aging dictator in the process of grooming his son for power, is indicative of this blind pragmatism.
Mr. Obama's speech is definitely a departure from the Bush discourse and is applauded for signaling a sea of change in U.S. relations with the Muslim world. Now is the opportune time to engage the Arab Muslim world in a meaningful commitment to the rule of law and fair transparent elections. Mr. Obama needs to further press for good governance, rule of law and accountability in order to increase the scope of individual and group liberties.
It would be a grave mistake if the US abandons those ideals which have taken a back seat to political and strategic calculations in the making of U.S. foreign policy past or present. The past has taught us that continued political oppression was key in fanning the flames of those bent on setting Islam on a collision course with the rest of humanity. Mr. Obama you have the Muslim world in the palm of your hands but only for a short time, I hope you can seize on this immense capital but daunting responsibility.
All the party list winners are currently engaged in intensified negotiations for the leadership of city and county councils. For the most part, parties have to navigate through compromises with PAM elected politicians in order to determine the make-up of those councils. These negotiations often involve acts of ideological transhumance. No party is firmly committed to an ideological vision: In Agadir dominated by the USFP, for instance, there is increasing chatter of a possible coalition with the Islamist PJD. In Marrakech, it seems that the dominant mayor of the city, al-Jazouli of the Constitutional Union Party, is facing a daunting challenge from PAM's Adnan Ben Abdallah for the majority of the 91-member council. There is also a battle for mayor of the capital of the Kingdom Rabat. The current mayor al-Bahraoui of the Popular Movement party is facing a potentially damaging coalition between the PJD and PAM. Thus, it seems that all roads to local governance go by PAM, further consecrating its status as a dominant force in the new political landscape of Morocco.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Michael Slackman paints an unabashedly stark portrait of a country held hostage to the single vision of its leader. such vision has stifled any move towards political change.